Seeing Red

    The Wine Guy

    Since it appears that we won’t be seeing temperatures in the 70’s anytime soon, it must be time for the Big Reds! Let the tasting begin!

    Duckhorn Vineyards of Sonoma has been making great reds for a long time, but every once in a while, they exceed even their own expectations. Duckhorn Decoy, 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County,($24.99), is one of those wines. Accessing prime grapes from vineyards in Sonoma County, they’ve created this value Cab that’s pure Duckhorn and drinking beautifully right now. 2016 was another excellent vintage in Sonoma and offered beautifully ripe fruit. This is a blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Petite Sirah and 1% Cabernet Franc, aged in 40% new French and American oak for 10 months. All for Under $25. It shows bold flavors of black cherry, raspberry, black currant; subtle notes of dark chocolate, licorice and spice. Tannins are well rounded, and the finish is long and engaging. Duckhorn does it again!

    San Felice Chianti Classico 2016, ($22.99), is another big red that’s drinking really well right now, despite its young age. This Tuscan red works well with antipasti, full-flavored first courses, red meats, and medium-aged cheeses. Pour yourselves generous glasses and tuck into a platter of grilled flank steak crostini with wilted mustard greens; they’ll be perfect with the beautiful tannins. Depending on your mood, you can impress your diners with several choices. If you have the time, falling-apart tender osso buco is your man. To bring out the lovely fruit of this San Felice, make it classic chicken cacciatore over polenta. A beef roast with Madeira sauce will accent the floral notes which make this Chianti Classico so remarkably delicious. For the earthy nuances of the wine, we say a simple pasta with tomatoes and black olives. Send everybody home happy with another glass or two and a semi-mature Italian Taleggio cheese.

    Lapalu Vieilles Vignes Beaujolais Villages 2017, ($22.99), is a red Burgundy with style and substance, made by one of the region’s real rising stars. A maverick of sorts, Jean-Claude Lapalu is among the most respected and revered growers in Beaujolais, a darling of the Paris wine scene, and a leader in the so-called Natural Wine movement in France. He is the third generation to farm the vines on his property, which is 9 hectares of largely east and southeast facing vines scattered from Mont Brouilly down through the rolling hills to his home village of Saint-Etienne-la-Varenne, the “gateway to the Crus”. All of that devotion and passion have resulted in the Lapalu Vieilles Vignes Beaujolais Villages, which garnered raves from Robert Parker, Jr.’s Wine Advocate.  Seared duck breast with cherries would pair beautifully with the wine’s delicious fruit.

    For a really special dinner or event, try some Freemark Abbey 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, ($54.99). Back in 1976 Freemark Abbey Cabernet was one of the winning wines in the famous Judgment in Paris Tasting. It’s been a Napa Valley staple for decades and today Freemark Abbey is owned by the Jess Jackson family and has a renewed focus and vitality. Robert Parker just wrote “Freemark Abbey has hit pay dirt big-time, with plenty of terrific offerings that are being released now and early in 2016. Winemaker Ted Edwards seems to go from strength to strength and readers looking for top-flight Napa wines priced under $50.00 need to check out several of these immediately, as I’m sure they’ll be huge crowd-pleasers.” This 2014 is 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 6 % Petit Verdot, 6% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc.

    Decanter Magazine scored this 95 points saying “The estate known today as Freemark Abbey was established in 1886 by one of the first female wine-growers in Napa. Today, Ted Edwards is head winemaker, working for the past three decades to develop relationships with growers, allowing exclusive sourcing rights to specific plots, which is crucial to the winery’s success. This wine has been aged for 28 months in a mixture of French and American oak. Stephen Brook: Powerful blackcurrant nose, with slightly charred oak. Very rich without being jammy, it packs a punch. An assertive and very youthful style, but good acidity and tannins mean this should go the distance. Alex Hunt MW: A bit Port-like on the nose to begin with, but there is good depth and the brightness increases in the glass. The palate is succulent, appealing, and has potential to age. Very good. Stefan Neumann MS: Intense, youthful and fruit-forward nose. This is softly structured but with a good level of tannins. Violets and rose petals lead up to a lengthy finish. Great purity and clarity here.”

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